Alex de la Iglesia‘s The Last Circus isn’t for the faint of heart; people are mutilated, disfigured and emotionally scarred beyond the point of saving. But behind the terror lies a simple story of love gone wrong; after sad clown Javier (a fearless Carlos Areces) falls in love with Natalia (Carolina Bang), girlfriend of the sadistic happy clown Sergio (Antonio de la Torre), both men start to lose their grip on reality. Everything about the movie, from the eyepopping costumes to the overly saturated colors and deliberately un-circuslike score, flirts with over-the-top craziness, but Iglesia’s ability to find truth in the most bizarre situations grounds the film in a semi-realistic state. The film veers from jet-black humour to crazed fantasy (sometimes within the same scene), creating a tension that’s barely relieved by the film’s vertigo-inducing ending. The realization that Natalia’s masochistic nature seems hardly worthy of Javier’s descent into madness drives home the subtle message that equates Javier and Sergio’s brutal fight for her with the bloody civil war between passionate Republican and Nationalist forces battling for the heart of Spain. Horrifying and hilarious, The Last Circus challenges the idea that all is fair in love and war.